According to The New Zealand Herald, the Australian gunman – who identified himself as Brenton Tarrant – came to New Zealand to plan and train for a terrorist attack, perhaps taking advantage of New Zealand’s more liberal gun laws, before realising that it was “a target-rich environment”. There’s less than 40,000 muslims in New Zealand, and no history of racial tension.
The further south in New Zealand you go, the more anglo and more protestant it becomes. As a result, Christchurch does have something of a domestic reputation for being a bit staid and casually racist. The National Front, New Zealand’s marginal white supremacist party, is based in Christchurch. It’s the sort of thing that people joked about – the try-hard neo Nazis in Christchurch – but no one ever thought anything would come from it. Cantabrians I spoke to on Friday were in disbelief. Cops don’t even carry guns in New Zealand.
Christchurch is a city that has already been living through the trauma of a massive earthquake in 2011 that claimed 185 lives, followed by more than a year of thousands of aftershocks.
Less so today, but it was noticeable when you visited the Garden City for years after the quake that it was the main topic of discussion. Bed-wetting became common-place for children. The centre of the city is still a mess, insurance claims for house repairs are still being processed. Of all the places for this to happen.